8 Feb 2023
UsernamePassword

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Lee Martin - Gig Review: Lee Martin @ Wunderbar, Lyttleton - 09/03/2022

11 Mar 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

I had been waiting a very long time for this gig, but finally it was the night of Lee Martin’s album launch for Gypsy Soul. I had promised her I would be there for it, so I had taken time off work and had flown down from Auckland back home to Oxford just for this. Due to red light restrictions she had to change the gig from The Piano to Wunderbar in Lyttleton, and we were in for a full house. Lee had contacted me on the Monday prior to the gig to let me know that the album had just debuted into the national charts at #14, and to say she was over the moon is something of an understatement. It may have been mentioned just a few times at the gig itself.

I set off for the hour-long drive to Lyttleton and was also looking forward to seeing Wunderbar for the first time. It is a well-known iconic venue, yet I had never previously been, and I was very pleased with what I found as there is one room with the bar (Cassels on tap!) and another which is set up with a permanent stage. Of course, tonight it was all 100% seated, and I found my way to my table (another review written with the aid of candlelight) and looked around. I was interested to see a video camera on either side of the stage, which were being used to capture the night, and could see we were in for an intimate evening.

Chris Ward, guitarist/producer/arranger, came over for a chat and we had a long discussion on how much things had changed since we both used to get in trouble with our respective wives for talking too much and not undertaking whatever job we were supposed to be doing together. Soon, I heard a voice shout my name and I turned around to see Lee heading towards me with a massive smile on her face. We greeted each other with a hug, and I said to her that I never thought I would get a cuddle from a bona fide pop star and her smile got even wider.

Tonight’s gig was going to be split in two, so that people could get more drinks from the bar during the interval, when we would also be shown Lee’s new video for Miss You. The gig started with just Lee onstage, performing When I Was Still With You totally solo, and straightaway everyone was entranced by her voice. She has the confidence which only comes with playing anywhere and everywhere, doing whatever she can to be allowed to perform. The first time I saw her play was some years back at one of her regular OGB sessions which is primarily a solo covers set with just a few of her own songs if she can sneak them in. She is very much a working musician, and it is this experience which allows her to be so totally relaxed onstage, so opening without any other musicians is something she is very used to. Her voice is rich, full of emotion, and no-one in the audience dared make a sound, or even breathe, as she were all placed under her spell.

Whiskey and Red Wine was played early in the set as it is a fan favourite but was on the Lost Girl EP from 3 years ago, and tonight’s focus was on the album. Again, it started as a solo piece, but saxophonist Ben Lill joined in on sax for the second verse, then Chris also started adding nuances and by the end, both drummer Stacy Miles and 5-string bassist Sam White were also involved. From here on in, the night was a band affair, but it was interesting to hear the arrangements as they are very strongly focused indeed on Lee, her vocals and guitar. It was far more about the other musicians adding different flavours and nuances as opposed to taking the songs in different directions. Ben probably had the largest musical input with his powerful sax, which is interesting as on the album there is a both piano and trumpet and here, he was filling in for both. Chris was incredibly restrained, keeping it tight and never overplaying, while one would never have imagined that Sam was just a fill-in as the regular bassist was away, adding a lot of complexity to the bottom end. Stacy was very similar to Chris, in that he deliberately kept his input quite minimal, using rim shots and different types of sticks alongside a technique which was just right for the evening.

As for Lee, tonight she was in her element, full of confidence, a chart album behind her and family and friends in front of her. She was incredibly relaxed, sharing stories with the crowd and jokes with the band. The first set was wonderfully balanced, with changes in pace and dynamics which allowed for everyone to hear the contrasts, always with her beautiful vocals at the forefront of everything. For some of the songs she put down the acoustic, showing she is more than happy to perform without an instrument to hide behind, taking the microphone off the stand and having a ball. They closed the first set with Mystic, the Van Morrison number from which the album gets its name, moving her vocals more into blues territory and allowing herself to belt. Having the gig in this format meant we could all get another drink, and then we all settled back to watch the video for Miss You which was projected onto a screen. This is one of her more dramatic numbers from the album, and the video is certainly not what I would have expected, putting a dramatic twist on the lyrics. A break also meant Lee could make a wardrobe change, much to her delight.

Although tonight was all about the album, Lee started the second set with Itch (the current name although it could well change), which is brand new. This commenced with hard riffing acoustic and a feeling of aggression, but the overall arrangement had loads of space and much to everyone’s surprise (including the band, as it was the first time they achieved it) they stopped dead. Next up was What If I Die, my personal #1 from last year, and they absolutely nailed it. What was emanating from the stage was just how much fun they were having, combined with total confidence in their material, and they really could do no wrong whatsoever which allowed for little asides between them as they moved through a set which again was full of contrast and dynamics.

As it got towards the end of the set we were given the drunk Mexican wedding number which is Wait Forever, with everyone doing their best to both keep it together and slur through the material. No-one was quite sure if the rhythm section would ever keep it together enough to actually finish but they got there in the end, much to everyone’s delight and hilarity. Lee ended the night with the song which will always feel personal to me, New Year’s Eve. Originally she had to be convinced to record the song, as she had written it to vent, and in the studio they were unable to make it work, but then while Lee and I went to buy some food (and wine) TeMatera and Chris set to work and totally rearranged it, so by the time we returned it had new life. It has energy, passion, and is packed full of bounce and energy, and Lee was on fire as she sang "Screw You Too". That was the end, so the band then hid behind the curtain until they were “convinced” to come back out for Thinking About You and then the night was over.

This was an incredible gig, and it was wonderful to see just how Lee and the band were received as this really is a remarkable album. They are now undertaking a nationwide tour, and I plan to catch up with them again in Auckland towards the end of April. Check out Lee’s Facebook page for more details as to where and when they are playing, as if you love great songs, wonderful vocals, all performed with a band who are having fun and enjoying themselves, then you cannot afford to miss out on this. And if you have somehow not heard Gypsy Soul, then you certainly need to give it a listen, as it is yet another wonderful release from AAA Records.

 

About Lee Martin

Lee Martin is a New Zealand based singer/songwriter who has been impacting the music scene with her thought-provoking lyrics and storytelling writing style. She is South African born and have recorded two original albums that received ample radio play and enjoyed great success with her fans from all the corners of the world. A childhood spent listening to greats such as Van Morrison, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen etc. has greatly influenced her music. Lee started her training in classical guitar at the age of 9 and has been singing and performing professionally for the past 15 years.

Martin is an old soul with a versatile writing style which allows her to cross genres as she glides easily between folk, rock, blues and country, all the while maintaining her unique sound.

Lee's storytelling writing style is what intrigues her fans and keeps them captivated.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Lee Martin

Releases

Gypsy Soul
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Lost Girl
Year: 2019
Type: EP

Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Gig Review: Ding Dong Lounge 10th Birthday Part 1 @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 29/01/2023
03 Feb 2023 // by Kev Rowland
The original Ding Dong Lounge was founded in New York City in 2001 by Bill Nolan, opening on the upper west side of Manhattan and slowly gaining a following of talented artists, writers, actors, and musicians. In 2003, Bill Walsh opened Ding Dong Lounge in Melbourne, branding itself with a live gig atmosphere that easily upheld Ding Dong’s rock reputation.
Read More...
Beckoned - Single/Video Review: Luminous
01 Feb 2023 // by Kev Rowland
The word “supergroup” is not one to be bandied around lightly, yet that was very much the first thing which came to mind when I came across the new formation of Beckoned. During one of the many lockdowns, guitarist Nail Vincent (Devilskin) started working on new material, and he played some to his old bandmate, bassist Munro Goodwin (Sinate) and pretty soon they were working on the material together with drummer Corey Friedlander (City of Souls,8 Foot Sativa), but who would be the singer?
Read More...
Flying Man - Single Review: Under The Stars
31 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Flying Man is the stage name of Dunedin based Irish-born live-looping guitarist and singer/songwriter Alan Ned Gray. Flying Man’s song-writings sit in the electroacoustic realm - playing programmed beats, live looping and layered harmonies.
Read More...
Crying Club - EP Review: Big Water Bottle
31 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
It is some 18 months since I last reviewed a recording by Crying Club, which was the single Taxi Man, but I did see them at EmoFest last year where three of the songs on this five-track thirteen-minute-long EP were played. While their music is solidly rooted in the indie scene, they manage to also bring in other genres as they cross genres, bringing rock and metal quite strongly into their poppy mix.
Read More...
Gig Review: Midnight Green & Kazia @ The Thirsty Dog, Auckland - 21/01/2022
21 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
After being blasted the previous night at Dead Witch, tonight I was at The Thirsty for what promised to be a very different affair indeed, with two soul/jazz/pop bands. Beforehand I was talking to the bar manager who told me that soon they will be closing for renovations, after which they will open up with the stage in a different place, and it promises to be much improved, so I am really looking forward to seeing the end results.
Read More...
Gig Review: The Rising Tide @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 20/01/2023
20 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Back to Dead Witch tonight for my first time seeing The Rising Tide who were up from Palmerston North in support of their excellent new EP, The Hope We Die For. They had also invited a few other bands who I have seen before, namely Brawler NZHC who I saw supporting Xile, plus favourites Unwanted Subject and Pale Flag who were both at the Downfall of Humanity release show.
Read More...
Gig Review: Music In Parks - Helensville @ Helensville River Reserve, Auckland - 15/01/2023
15 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Each Summer, the Auckland Council put on a series of free outdoor concerts in different places around the city, and today was the second this year, and definitely had a country flavour with Keith Pereira, Louis Jarlov and Sam Bartells. Not only are the shows free, but they all take place in the afternoon, so this gig was set to take place between 1 and 4!
Read More...
Gig Review: Ovus @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 14/01/2023
15 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Having spent an incredible two weeks at home on South Island, it was now back up to Auckland and it was soon back into the live scene with my first gig at Dead Witch for 2023. Tonight was going to be interesting as I recently reviewed Ovus’s EP, Lucid, and it would be the first time I had seen Afterlight since they changed their name from Antebellum.
Read More...
View All Articles By Kev Rowland

NZ Top 10 Singles

  • FLOWERS
    Miley Cyrus
  • KILL BILL
    SZA
  • ESCAPISM.
    RAYE feat. 070 Shake
  • SURE THING
    Miguel
  • UNHOLY
    Sam Smith And Kim Petras
  • PLAYERS
    Coi Leray
  • PEOPLE
    Libianca
  • MADE YOU LOOK
    Meghan Trainor
  • CREEPIN'
    Metro Boomin, The Weeknd And 21 Savage
  • MESSY IN HEAVEN
    venbee And goddard.
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem